Dear Editor, Northport Patch
On March 28, I attended the Northport-East Northport School Board budget meeting. At the beginning of the evening, .
It was very informative, and I give Mr. Gross credit for giving that presentation with hundreds of teachers present! I also wish to thank the President [Antoinette Blanck] and Board of Education for agreeing to allow the public to be informed of the content and progress of the negotiations.
There were several things that worried me about this meeting. First, as the presentation was discussed it was clear that the teachers were not happy about how negotiations were progressing and the concessions that they were being asked to make. Some voiced their opinion that Mr. Gross presented a lopsided viewpoint of the negotiations as the representative for the Board’s side of the negotiations. As a parent of children in our schools, what I took from the presentation was a pretty solid explanation on why school district payroll costs need to be kept in check, and why we can no longer afford pay raises of 5-8% per year.
With the 2% tax cap looming in our future, these types of pay raises, not only for teachers, but for all district employees, will start us off with a deficit every year as the school budget process begins. And if we are contractually required to pay these raises each year there will undoubtedly need to be cuts in other parts of the budget. These budget cuts will likely be layoffs and program cuts that will result in a very negative impact on our children. What is even more scary is what the LIPA tax grievance will do to our district when a settlement is reached.
I do hope that an agreement can be made that is fair to all; the teachers, the taxpayers and especially the students. Future mass layoffs and program cuts should be avoided at all costs because of the impact it will have on our students. If the unions in our district (not only the UTN but the other four or five bargaining units) have better solutions on how we can avoid layoffs and educational cuts without effecting their salaries and benefits, then I would definitely love to hear those ideas.
Another thing that disturbs me deeply is the lack of community involvement in the budget process. I see the same 20-30 faces at every meeting. At a recent PTA meeting about the budget, there were only five members present. What’s up with that? Is it because there is only a 2% tax increase proposed? Is it because there is no planned cuts to programs or threats of layoffs? Allow me to give my fellow community members the heads up…we are facing some dire financial implications due to the LIPA tax grievance. NOW is the time to educate yourself on the budget process, learn what the $151 million proposed budget is being spent on and voice your opinions.